Rappa v. American Airlines – Case Brief Summary (New York)

In Rappa v. American Airlines (87 Misc 2d 759, 386 NYS2d 612 [Civ Ct, Queens County 1976, Hentel, J.]), the Civil Court held that an airline was liable for a refund to a passenger after the failure of the travel agent who sold the ticket.

The court wrote:

"In view of the provisions of the ATC Sales Agency Agreement, the court distinctly feels that defendant airline was most willing to accept all of the benefits under the agreement, including the promotion and sale of its transportation facilities, but was unwilling to accept any possible disadvantages which might arise. It called the travel agent under the agreement its agent; it clothed the agent with authority to issue tickets on its behalf, and made the agent its depository for the proceeds of ticket sales. It held itself out, for all intents and purposes, as the principal with whom the unwary customer was actually dealing. It cannot now retire behind a curtain of limited liability on the theory that one, such as Dallys travel agency, was its own independent contractor and broker serving the interests only of itself and its customers when, in fact, such agent was serving the primary interests of the carrier involved." (Rappa, 87 Misc 2d at 763.)

The court denied the airline's motion to dismiss the passenger's complaint and, on its own motion pursuant to CPLR 3212, entered summary judgment in favor of the passenger.